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The 10 Worst Contracts in the NHL

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2013

The 10 Worst Contracts in the NHL

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    Call it the end of an era.

    It's no longer necessary to lead off any discussion about bad NHL contracts with talk of Scott Gomez.

    Both Gomez and Wade Redden were bought out by the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, respectively, at the end of the lockout.

    Both got their freedom and signed new deals. Gomez (one-year, $700,000) will be playing for the San Jose Sharks, while Wade Redden (one-year, $800,000) has already scored two goals for the St. Louis Blues.

    But there are still plenty of painful contracts for NHL teams to carry.

    Just because a player has a "bad" contract does not mean he is a poor or under-productive player. Good players can have awful contracts.

    Here are the 10 worst contracts in the NHL right now.

Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

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    The Minnesota Wild made a move into the big-time last July when they signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year, $98 million contracts.

    While the Wild served notice that the team would no longer accept also-ran status, the team has some pretty severe payroll obligations for the future.

    The Wild has probably overpaid for both players. However, Parise appears to be the kind of player who can lead them for years to come.

    There are questions about Suter. He is a good and talented defenseman. However, is he worth anything close to what the Wild are contractually obligated to pay him?

    That's highly unlikely. It seems that the Wild will regret having to carry this baggage for years to come.

Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Philadelphia Flyers acquired Ilya Bryzgalov and then signed him to a long-term contract in the hope that he would shore up their goaltending shortcomings.

    The Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal. His first year in Philadelphia was inconsistent at best and disappointing at worst.

    Bryzgalov had a 2.48 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. While those numbers were not bad, it seemed as if Bryzgalov was cold and hot throughout the season.

    General manager Paul Holmgren needs consistency from Bryzgalov. If the does not get it—and sooner would be a lot better than later—this signing will leave the Flyers with a painful contractual obligation for years to come.

Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders

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    Rick DiPietro has been a thorn in the New York Islanders' side since the 2006-07 season.

    That's when the Islanders signed the goalie to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract.

    It would be hard to justify that contract even if DiPietro was going to the All-Star game every year. However, that has not been part of his makeup.

    DiPietro has played 47 games in the last four seasons. He has not been able to stay healthy, and the Islanders have not had consistent goaltending.

    Since they play in perhaps the most competitive division in the league with the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, they can't afford such a significant weakness.

    DiPietro has eight years remaining on his contract, and that's a brutal obligation for this struggling team.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

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    Alex Ovechkin is one of the most well-known and popular players in the NHL.

    Through his first five seasons in the NHL with the Washington Capitals, Ovechkin scored 50 goals or more four times.

    Ovechkin was one of the key faces in the NHL. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis signed Ovechkin to a 13-year, $124 million contract.

    Ovechkin has eight years remaining on the contract. He will earn $9 million in 2013-14 and $10 million per year over the following seven years.

    Ovechkin does not appear to be the same player he was when he signed the deal. Ovechkin scored 32 goals in 2010-11 and 38 goals last year. He has scored one goal in his first five games this season.

    When he was at his best, Ovechkin was a wondrous player capable of carrying the Capitals franchise. It no longer appears he has that ability.

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Vincent Lecavalier has been one of the Tampa Bay's most important players since he was drafted by the team in 1998.

    He has had plenty of highlight-film moments for the Lightning, and he has been financially rewarded for his efforts. Lecavalier signed an 11-year, $85 million contract prior to the 2008-09 season.

    Lecavalier's contract carries a cap hit of $7.7 million per year, and there are seven years remaining on the deal.

    When Lecavalier signed the contract, he had scored 52 goals during the 2006-07 season. He followed that with 40 goals in 2007-08.

    Lecavalier has not reached the 30-goal mark since then.

    He is a solid player and is one of the team's top leaders. However, he is not as important as Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis. He may also have been eclipsed by defenseman Victor Hedman.

    The Lightning are clearly overpaying for his services.

Tomas Kaberle, Montreal Canadiens

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    Now that the Montreal Canadiens no longer have to worry about Scott Gomez's onerous contract, they need to concern themselves with Tomas Kaberle's incongruous deal.

    Kaberle is earning a prorated $4.25 million this season, and the Canadiens will be on the hook for $4.25 million next season.

    The problem with Kaberle is that he is a one-dimensional player who avoids contact with opponents as if it would lead to a dreaded disease.

    Kaberle is supposed to be a good offensive defenseman, and he was in his heyday with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he has scored seven goals since the start of the 2010-11 season.

    Kaberle appears to have become a timid hockey player, and he really has no place on an NHL roster at this point.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

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    Roberto Luongo continues to wear a Vancouver Canucks unifor.

    And he continues to be on the trading block.

    General manager Mike Gillis wants to get equal value for the goalie, who has appeared in three All-Star games.

    Luongo signed a 12-year, $64 million contract prior to the 2010-11 season. He has eight years remaining once the 2013 season concludes on a deal that carries a $5.333 million cap hit per season.

    Luongo has certainly had his share of ups and downs, and he is capable of spectacular play on occasion. However, his contract makes him a financial liability for whomever employs him.

Christian Ehrhoff, Buffalo Sabres

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    Christian Ehrhoff was a key defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks during their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011.

    He scored 14 goals that season for the Canucks, matching the total that he had put on the board the previous season. Ehrhoff was plus-50 in 2009-10 and 2010-11 (combined) and he gave the Canucks a consistent effort as his contract ran out.

    He was traded to the New York Islanders after the 2010-11 season, who in turn moved him to the Buffalo Sabres. He signed a 10-year, $40 million deal with the Sabres.

    His production fell dramatically last year, as he scored five goals and was minus-two on the season. He has eight years remaining on a contract that will carry a cap hit of $4 million per season.

    The Sabres appear to have overspent on Ehrhoff.

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Chicago's Duncan Keith is the team's best and most courageous defenseman.

    He became a Chicago legend when he lost seven teeth (video above) in a Western Conference Finals game against the San Jose Sharks.

    Gritty player that he is, Keith went to the locker room for repairs, and then came back out on to the ice before the game was over.

    Keith is an excellent defender, stick-handler and has a rocket for a a shot. However, the Blackhawks overpaid when they signed him to a 13-year, $72 million contract following the 2010 Stanley Cup run.

    Keith's contract carries a $5.5 million cap hit for each of the next 10 seasons.

James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    James Wisniewski parlayed one strong NHL season into a six-year, $33 million contract.

    Wisniewski signed his deal prior to the 2011-12 season. In 2010-11, he scored 10 goals and had 41 assists as he split the season between the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens.

    Wisniewski was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the end of the 2010-11 season, and then signed a new deal with Columbus.

    The Blue Jackets will take a $5.5 million cap hit for each of the next four seasons on Wisniewski's contract.

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